Cape Town – Helen Zille took to Twitter again last night, this time to brand her soon-to-resign DA party leader Mmusi Maimane a coward.
Shortly before Maimane’s much-anticipated public announcement of his resignation, and with this decision known to Zille, she posted to Twitter Charles Mackay’s poem “No Enemies”, saying sometimes a poem “speaks to one’s situation”:
You have no enemies, you say?
Alas! my friend, the boast is poor;
He who has mingled in the fray of duty,
That the brave endure,
Must have made foes!
If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You’ve never set the wrong to right.
You’ve been a coward in the fight.
It was a Twitter war over her controversial views that were it not for colonialism, black people would not have had piped water or a judiciary, for instance, that finally split the two, with the Soweto-born Maimane insisting the system was dehumanising, had caused untold misery and could not be praised in any form.
The DA then banned Zille from all party activities but allowed her to continue her term as Western Cape Premier.
Instead, when her time was up, Zille returned as federal chairperson of the DA, and Maimane says he was forced to quit as party leader.
He is the latest to fall after crossing swords with Zille.
Former DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko was the first protégé of Zille’s to jump ship after clashing with her. Mazibuko found herself at odds with Zille and eventually left the party and politics altogether in 2014.
Then came Dr Mamphele Ramphele in 2014, who joined the DA after she was courted by Zille to move over with her party, Agang. The academic later pulled out of the merger.
Outgoing Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba refused to accept the fact that Zille was making a political comeback. When Zille announced that she would run for the position of federal chair in the DA, Mashaba expressed concerns and resigned on Monday after Zille’s election.
During his resignation announcement yesterday, Maimane was joined by Zille, the party’s spokesperson Solly Malatsi and Athol Trollip, who also announced that he would be stepping down as the DA chairperson.
Maimane said: “Make no mistake, along the journey there have been many difficulties. I fought battles with Helen Zille, especially regarding her comments - and the impact of her comments - as it pertained to colonialism.
"These sentiments did not help build trust between black and white South Africans, and they undermined the project the party was engaged in.
“It is no secret that for decades, the DA has been seen as a party for minorities only. The majority of South Africans, mainly black South Africans, did not relate to the DA and, by extension struggle to trust the DA.
“This was not the fault of any one person, rather a consequence of the historic journey of DA and its predecessor parties. However, this needed to change and it required deliberate action,” said Maimane.
He said it had become quite clear that there existed a grouping within the DA who did not see eye to eye with him and did share his vision for the party and the direction it was taking.
“There has been for several months a consistent and co-ordinated attempt to undermine my leadership and ensure that either this project failed, or I failed.
“This extended to the smear campaign that was run on the front pages of an Afrikaans weekly paper in an attempt to destroy my name and my integrity.
"This cowardly behaviour has put my wife and two young children in great danger as pictures of our home were published in the media,” he said.
“The DA is not the vehicle best suited to take forward the vision of building One South Africa for All. It is with great sadness that in order to continue the fight for this vision I so strongly believe in, and the country I so dearly love, I today tender my resignation as leader of the Democratic Alliance.”
Maimane will continue as parliamentary leader until the end of the year, after which the party will go to congress to elect new leadership.
Reacting to Maimane’s announcement, former DA member and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said: “I hate to say I told you so, but I am going to say it anyway.
"I am not claiming to be a sangoma but I warned Mmusi Maimane that if he didn’t stand on principle, his party’s laptop boys would swallow him up and spit him out.
"He saw the blue train coming but didn’t know how to get out of the way.”
She said the DA was well on its way on the path of destruction.
“It’s best we don’t disturb them. The problem for Mmusi and his handlers in the DA is that none of them have a clue about principled leadership.”